5 thoughts on “Qatar and Saudi Arabia: groundhog day”

  1. If I may split one of Sir Oliver’s hairs, from the co-ordinated diplomatic and Information Operations across four states, I’d have have said that there was extensive preparation and co-operation in advance of the operation. What there seems to be a lack of is any appreciation for the friction of operations, and thus that not everything will go according to plan and schedule. Most importantly, there seems to be little concept of a plan B.
    This is not the first time it has happened: the same failing has been seen in the operation in Yemen; with Vision 2030 (to an extent); and now this operation. Whether this is as a result of youthful impetuousness (as the Rahbar suggested over Yemen), excessive optimism, or bad advice (as per Rumsfeld invading Iraq) is unclear, but it appears to be a pattern.

  2. I doubt there will be early clarity on Trump v Pentagon, as on much of Trump v US Administration on many matters! I recall Wellington’s reported reaction to his first Cabinet meeting: “I gave them their instructions and then they wanted to discuss them!”
    At one point last week, Shaikh Salman (Bahrain CP) said there was nothing personal against Tamim or the Qataris. He and his father have of course expended a lot of effort over the years on attempts to soften Qatari suspicion of Bahrain’s fealty to the Saudis. Bahrain needs good economic relations with all their neighbours.

  3. It seems to me that this attack on Qatar has been launched with little preparation. I shall be particularly interested to see how some of the following work out:
    The personal attacks on Tamim and his family.
    The US position – at present Trump and the Pentagon (supported by Rex Tillerson) are facing in opposite directions.
    The UAE/Iran relationship, where the same could be said of MbZ and the Dubai souk.
    The hack – was it really freelance Russians and if so were they paid by UAE/KSA?
    Kuwait and Oman – will they fall into line?

  4. Patrick Theros

    I agree with Sir Alan. However, a little before he got to Riyadh there was an incident on the border between Saudi and Qatari border forces. The Qataris lost four dead in the exchange of fire. I do not remember the casualties if any on the Saudi side.
    The Qatar KSA border dispute had remained dormant for more than two decades until 1990. Qatar had indeed behaved as a vassal to Saudi Arabia on the assumption that the Kingdom could protect it. On the morning of August 3, Qatar awoke to the fact that Saudi Arabia could not defend itself, let alone the small states of the Gulf. Saudi Arabia served only one function: to call the Americans. It did not take a rocket scientist to decide that Qatar could do the same. The resultant realignment in Qatari strategy provoked Riyadh into rekindling the border dispute with some violence and droppings its non-interference in the Hawar island dispute.

  5. It takes little to inflame the ‘grumbling appendicitis’ that has for long beset the relationship between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, though the latest spat looks particularly acute. The late King Fahd was inclined to opt for conciliation rather than confrontation. In the early hours of one morning in early 1993 I was woken in Riyadh by a telephone call from the King’s private secretary with a request for urgent advice on how the British government with its long experience of Gulf border issues would regard a military retaliation by the National Guard to an incursion which had just taken place by Qataris across the Kingdom’s coastal frontier into the disputed Khor al Udaid strip. My few words of discouragement appeared well taken and I went back to bed. The affair was in due course settled without conflict.
    Bahrain too has had her bones to pick with Qatar. Former Gulf hands may recall the diverting episode during the dispute over Bahrain’s claim to sovereignty over the Hawar Islands, eventually settled in her favour in 2001 by the International Court of Justice, where the Qataris were believed to have added insult to injury by depositing a lone donkey on the uninhabited Hawar islet that lies between the two states.

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